Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Letter to the EditorWell glory oskie, you just can't make this stuff up; nobody would ever believe it.
Check this out.
WHAT? You mean it's all a LIE? I didn't think they could print it if it wasn't TRUUUUUE.
Oh wait. "Fiction." That might be a clue.
Excuse me now while I go to the kitchen and die laughing.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Odds and Ends.
My $1.99 Big Lots rosebush is more beautiful every year. No expensive nursery-bred rosebush could possibly be any prettier.
Are you all sure you don't want a kitten? LOOK how sweet and lovey they are!!!
Noooooo, Charley Gordon isn't jealous! He loves to share his CheapoChunks with the masses.
Seriously, could YOU resist that face?
Oh, and remember THIS? My middle school students showed it to me first, a few years ago, and then it was all over the internet, and then it was taken down for copyright infringement, and now it's all over the internet again. Including right here. So, so cute.
PEACE will come when people live
In friendship, side by side,
And cherish understanding
More than hatred, greed and pride.
PEACE will come when people see
All people as the same,
And no one has to live in fear,
In ignorance, or shame.
PEACE will come when people
Who are needy can reach out
For shelter, food, or love,
And no has to do without.
PEACE will come when people
Learn to listen and to care
About the rights and dignity
Of people everywhere.
PEACE will come when love and trust
And kindness know rebirth,
And on that day all people
Will rejoice in peace on earth.
-- Amanda Bradley
FREEDOM IS NOT FREE
I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze
A young Marine saluted it, and then
He stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud
With hair cut square and eyes alert
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought, how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many Pilots' planes shot down?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, Freedom is not free.
I heard the sound of taps one night,
When everything was still.
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
at the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, Freedom isn't free!!
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Another K-Mart AdventureThe "Gulf War Song," by the way, was written during the first Gulf War back in the nineties. It was the first Moxy Fruvous song I ever heard, and is responsible for my long love affair with all four band members. So to speak. (Unfortunately) (Oh, I didn't really say that!) (Yes I did.) (Be still, my heart.)
I was in K-Mart the other day (not WalMart!!!!!!!!!!!) and I ran into a former student. I hadn't seen him for six years; that would make him around twenty years old now.
He's home from Iraq for a few weeks, and then he's going back.
He was one of those kids who had it rough: broken and dysfunctional home, raggedy clothes, shallow roots, scary brother, shiftless mom, no dad. . . . They moved a lot to follow those benefits around the counties. He was desperate for attention. Desperate.
His mother was so shiftless and worthless that most of the time she never made it into the school office to fill out the papers for free lunch for her kids. They qualified, but without the paperwork the school couldn't legally let them have it. And our cooks sure weren't about to let a single chicken nugget out the door without the cash.
(A child once had a diabetic reaction in my classroom and I sent another student running to the cafeteria for a cookie. The kid returned, white-faced, followed by the head cook, who demanded immediate payment for the cookie. I gave her fifty cents and she stomped back to the kitchen, satisfied. Imagine.)
The middle school teachers usually arranged for this boy to have lunch. I don't know what his scary brother on the elementary floor did for lunch.
One Monday he asked to use my stapler. He took it and began stapling the tops of his sneakers to the rubber soles. He did this every period for a week. These were his only shoes.
In my classroom's lost-and-found was a pair of nearly-new sneakers, left there before Christmas vacation by a wealthy student who hadn't even missed them.
That Friday, I gave those sneakers to the boy with the stapled sneakers. I marked them up a bit so the original owner wouldn't recognize them.
They were a little big, but that left some room to grow.
Later that same year, I gave him my cd player/radio; the cd part hadn't worked for a long time and I had mentioned throwing it away. He came in at noon and asked if he could please have it.
He fixed the cd player and for all I know, he's still using it.
He told me that, at age twenty, he had three kids and a soon-to-be ex-wife. And a fiancee who worked back in Automotives. He'd come home to finalize his divorce and to buy the fiancee a new truck.
He gave me his military address and asked me to send him a card. He told me he had nobody who ever wrote; his kids were too little and his ex hated him too much and his fiancee was too illiterate.
I paid for my new surge protector and left the store more than a little downhearted. I'd hoped for so much better for this boy.
And then I remembered the life he'd had as a kid, and I brightened up a tiny little bit. Just a tiny, tiny little bit.
Shoddy as it is, the life he has now is still better than the life he had as a kid at home. Sigh. What a sad commentary.
I wonder how many generations it will take before these people are not dysfunctional by most standards.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
A Cappella GoodnessGo on and click the link:
Gulf War Song
We got a call to write a song about the war in the Gulf
But we shouldn't hurt anyone's feelings
So we tried, then gave up, 'cause there was no such song
But the trying was very revealing. . . .
What makes a person so poisonous righteous
That they'd think less of anyone who just disagreed?
She's just a pacifist, he's just a patriot
If I said you were crazy, would you have to fight me?
Fighters for liberty, fighters for power
Fighters for longer turns in the shower
Don't tell me I can't fight, 'cause I'll punch out your lights
And history seems to agree that I would fight you for me
So we read and we watched all the specially selected news
And we learned so much more 'bout the good guys
Won't you stand by the flag? Was the question unasked
Won't you join in and fight with the allies?
What could we say...we're only 25 years old?
With 25 sweet summers, and hot fires in the cold
This kind of life makes that violence unthinkable
We'd like to play hockey, have kids and grow old
Fighters for Texaco, fighters for power
Fighters for longer turns in the shower
Don't tell me I can't fight 'cause I'll punch out your lights
And history seems to agree that I would fight you for me
That us would fight them for we
He's just a peacenik and she's just a warhawk
That's where the beach was, that's where the sea
What could we say...we're only 25 years old?
And history seems to agree
that I would fight you for me
That us would fight them for we
Is that how it always will be?
Learn this by heart while I'm over at MommaK's, guest-blogging. All four parts. (Please.) You know you want to, and I know you can.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Elegance: Yes, I can spell it.
I was reading an article about one's personalized elegance, and it made me wonder if I had any.
I looked around my computer area, where I spend most of my free time these days, and got worried. Other people's worksites seem much more streamlined, sleek and business-like, than mine. Could it be that I had no innate elegance?
I took a closer look at my work area. Above my printer is a statue my son gave me for Christmas a few years ago, flanked by the two semi-formal portraits my children gave me around the same time.
The one on the right is my favorite. Much more natural.
Is it the hockey jersey from the USSR my son is wearing in what was supposed to be a formal portrait, that takes away from my elegance?
I don't think so. I like that picture just as it is. Why would I want an unnatural pose, or a picture of him in clothing donned for a fifteen-minute-photo shoot and never worn again?
Hey, I love that Rudolph special!
Just to the right of that picture is my gargoyle. One of them. My daughter bought him for me at a Renaissance Fair. The only embarassing thing about him is all that dust. He's so high up, I can't see that when I'm sitting at my computer. The space ship is Hub's; it's dusty, too, but I don't touch his stuff. And yes, that is a hot pink Donald Duck. Why, do you find that odd? I've had it for so long, it seems more normal than the white, pantsless Donald that's banned in Denmark. I also own a bright orange Pluto, and he seems very ordinary to me, too.
One of Hub's comic books fell down, I see. I'd straighten it up if I could reach up there.
There's a shelf above that one but I can't get a good angle without standing on a chair, and that's risky business at my
Further to the right, on those shelves, you would see more comic books, more space ships, more statues, several speakers, a big static ball, a turntable (Hub likes to make cd's of all his favorite old albums) and a large microscope.
I used to have a static ball, but when I cleaned out my old classroom, I gave it away to a sweet student. I gave away my lava lamp, too. And my disembodied hand with the flexible fingers.
I'd mention the rubber chicken that hung above my desk, but I don't want you to think I'm strange. I was speaking of elegance, remember?
I've told you before about my clock obsession. Here is the only clock in the house that I never consult. (I have to get right up on it to read the hands; shhh, don't tell anybody.) Hub bought it almost thirty years ago.
This room used to be Zappa's room. He grew up and moved out, but he still gives me awesome Christmas presents. That bloodshot-eyeball lamp is from him, too.
All the clutter around my work area is evidence of my Ebay doings. I used to have a 'joint' Ebay account with several other people but now I have my own. I don't recommend sharing an account.
Finally, does anybody want a kitten?
I changed the subject because it became clear to me that I am not elegant.
This doesn't bother me as much as it ought to.
Having only to choose between 'elegant' and 'funky,' I chose 'funky.'
Good thing, huh.
The Creepiest Thing EVER.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Evolution of Dance
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Itchy and Scratchy
Dirty Little Secrets
I don't know about you, but whenever I encounter anything like this, I am immediately suspicious of those who forbid the discussion.
What are they afraid of, anyway? The truth? I think that's exactly what they're afraid of: a truth that would prove them in the wrong.
This community routinely discards its coaches, teachers, students. . . hard-working people in all walks, and inevitably the powers-that-be will forbid any discussion concerning the circumstances, whys, or wherefores, of the decision.
Everybody's in the dark, and in the dark, there be monsters, and the biggest and most dangerous monsters there be, be rumor and innuendo.
With some open discussion, rumor and innuendo would be banished. It's almost as if the powers-that-be WANT rampant rumor and innuendo, to divert the people's attention away from what is really happening. . . .
Oh, surely not.
Oh, surely 'tis so.
This town is famous for it. They did it last year with a kind, decent, and winning coach, and they did it again last week with a creative, successful, and excellent teacher. They're doing it right now with a dear and precious friend.
This town does it all the time. It's their thang.
But shhhhh, we can't discuss it. It's forbidden.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Blog It ForwardIn a concept blatantly and shamelessly stolen from the awesome Buzz, I invite you all to participate in "Blog It Forward."
Randomly (or purposely) select a blog from your own blogroll and tell people to pay it a visit. This is not rocket science, thank heaven, this is something I can actually do without sweating a lot and falling into a panicky wad.
The only hard thing about it is picking only one. I love everyone on my blogroll and to pick out only one. . . . . that's difficult. But you know what, after thinking about it for only a few minutes, one name stood out today.
Everybody click on over to visit Anne, who is a truly lovely person. Anne just lost her father, and could use some good wishes from some kind and wonderful people, which is what all of YOU certainly are. After you're read just a little of what Anne has to say, you'll probably want to add her to YOUR blogroll and experience her every day. She's just simply wonderful. I love Anne, and so will you.
Now, click and comment. (please.)
You'll be a better person for discovering Anne.
Monday, May 22, 2006
I am often sought for my vast technowledge.
I've been listening to my MixMania cd's and they are fabulous. Thank you, mystery-person-whose-name-I-will-know-soon. I'll thank you again, then!
I bet I was the first person to get mine; I got them the day after the mailing day. My MixPartner must have mailed them RIGHT ON TIME, or even early. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Patriside's Mixmania is really fun; I recommend that all music-loving bloggers sign up for his next theme. He hasn't announced it yet but I know it will be good. It always is.
I'm going over to my MIL's house in about an hour. She's getting cable for both her tv and her computer, and she wants someone there who can understand the technician when he tells her complicated things like 'plug this into the wall socket.'
Does anyone else find it amusing that there is someone in this world who uses a computer daily but has even less knowledge than I do about how it's actually done?
You didn't know there was anyone with less technowledge than I have?
Well, I know of one. I love her dearly, but she makes me feel techno-smart, and this is so not true.
I'm wondering in advance, though, how well a cable connection will sit with her small, very old, Windows 95 computer. We might be taking her up to Fry's soon.
As I type this, my son has been working at his new job for an hour and a half now.
The college, in its infinite wisdom, hired him to work in the IT department. Work-study, so he can fit the hours around his class schedule. He will be taking his turn on the helpline, too. I find this ironic, because I call that helpline sometimes.
I'll be calling it fairly often, actually, as I learn to use Blackboard and all of its cool functions this session. The seminar helped, but not enough. I think it's one of those many things that just has to be done to be learned. Like driving. A book and a seminar will only go so far; you just have to get behind the wheel and do it. Like other things, too, but my daughter reads this blog and she doesn't know that I know anything about sex. I guess I should be giving her the 'talk' soon; she's in her twenties and it's time. I'm sure it will be invaluable; there are lots of things I still don't know.
You know, my mother never gave me the 'talk.' All she did was shove that Kotex pamphlet under the bathroom door one day and run. Remember that pamphlet? "Growing Up and Liking It."
Well, I like most of it.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Summertime, and I'm still waiting for the livin' to get easy.
When the wave primroses bloom, it's officially summer. The calendar might pretend it knows the exact date, but it's the flowers that really know.
Calendars and clocks and watches and that little time/date thing at the bottom right of a computer are useful, yes.
But if you want to know when summer's really here, look at the flowers.
And if you have wave primroses, you are luckier than most. They are absofrickenlutely beautiful, and they breed underground and spread like wildfire, almost before your very eyes. I planted eight little dead-looking sticks last summer, and this summer I've got about four square feet of them, plus all the little escapees.
They smell good, too.
Yup, summer's here. It might be in the high fifties some days, still, but it's summer. The wave primroses are starting to bloom.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Friday, May 19, 2006
Music is Magic. With Alice Faye and Deanna Durbin. Not.
Isn't It Ironic, Dontcha Think?I've posted parts of this on here before, but I've gussied it up and am getting ready to submit it to an actual teacher magazine. What do you think?
Facts Are The Enemy of Truth
This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild,
Had Mary been filled with reason,
There'd have been no room for the child.
--by Madeleine L'Engle
School administrators puzzle me. They don't seem quite human sometimes. When they look at a group of students, what do they see? I mean, what are they really SEEING, when they look at our children? What are they seeing when they look at the teachers? I think they see statistics. I don't think they see children, or educators; I think they see numbers, and dollar signs. Their schools are not filled with children; they are filled with potential federal cash cows, and potential lawsuits if their parents are not catered to. There are no educators; there are only puppets.
Children are not measurable. Statistics are.
I have a hard time understanding people who see progress only as a measurable statistic. I have problems with people who see creativity as a threat to order. I don't get along well with people who see rebellion as a disregard for the status quo. What a sad commentary on our society, that the movers and shakers are mown down and shackled, just when they most need to be exposed to every innovation, every wonder, every aspect of the world that can possibly be brought into the classroom.
What kind of people have we become, when attempts to guide are interpreted by those in ultimate control as journeys into perversion? When did going out of one's way to try to help someone become inappropriate? Why must everyone now be so very equalized that much individuality is lost? Of what societal or individual use is an echo? The ingredients in a multiple vitamin are standardized; children should not be.
What possible good can be accomplished by a reflection that is not one's own? I've seen a child's original poem edited and corrected until the end result had nothing to do with that individual child's talent or purpose. But then and only then did it get a good grade.
When the arts are removed completely (and they already are, in some schools; for the rest, it's just a matter of time.) to make room for more practical, measurable, easily understandable lessons in math, sports, grammar, sports, science, sports, sports, sports, PC, and sports, what will our children have to write about? And why should they bother?
Our nation isn't, to our shame, much about the intellectualism thing. (I made that sentence appalling on purpose.) It's strange to me, then, that administrations set such store by IQ's and standardized testing. An IQ cannot measure artistic ability. A high score on the ISTEP does not measure a capacity for love. We have no test that measures common sense. All we have are standardized tests that give us statistics, and statistics are not facts. I've ranted about that before. Statistics are people, with the tears wiped off. (Professor Irving Selikoff ) This is not good. We need the tears, too. The numbers are not accurate without the tears. Or the laughter.
Tears and laughter are not measurable. Therefore they are of no use to school administrators. They want only those things that can be measured with straight numbers, graded by a machine. In order to do this, things that make our children laugh or cry or sing or dance or draw or paint are no longer allowed in many of our schools. And yes, sometimes crying in school is a good thing. I've had students weep over a story in a book, or a scene in a film, or a headline in the newspaper. It's GOOD. (I'm not talking about bad things that make children cry.)
The ability to love, to be loved, to express love: can it be that these are more important than grammar, or math, or social studies? I think they are. I also believe that a good teacher can do both at once, if ever he/she is allowed to do so again.
How do we teach children to have compassion, to allow people to be different, to understand that "like" is not the same as "equal?" How do we teach our children to laugh, to love, and to accept the fact that the most important questions a human being can ask do not have - nor do they need - statistical right-or-wrong answers.
There are even "educators" (and I use the term loosely) out there who believe that creativity itself can be taught, and who write learned (hahahahaha) and usually dull, treatises and articles and textbooks on methods of teaching it. If you try to eat air, you'll. . . . well, you know what happens when you eat air. What comes out usually stinks.
The creative impulse, like love, can be killed, but it can't be taught. What a teacher CAN do, in working with young people, is to give the flame enough oxygen so that it can burn. As far as I'm concerned, this providing of oxygen is one of the noblest of all vocations. Teaching out of a text so a test score will be higher is not.
In most modern schools, however, the providing of oxygen is forbidden. Only the hot air of measurable statistics is permitted, because this is the only sort of thing understood by many of those in charge.
When we make complicated that which is simple, the powers of darkness rejoice.
The powers of darkness rejoice whenever a child's creative light is ignored or extinguished by a system that considers only statistics to be of merit. Not on the test? It won't be tolerated.
The powers of darkness rejoice whenever a creative and caring teacher is removed by a system that considers only in-the-box, good ol' boy, make-no-waves, textbook-teachers to have merit. What an ironic thing. What a joke on me. All these years, I thought my job was to teach and help young people. What a reality jolt to be told, after all these years of what people told me was success, that my job is NOT to help students, or to teach students, or to guide students; it is to teach spelling, grammar, and literature, and that it must be done with absolutely no delving into humanity, personality, or creativity. The language arts made rational. It is a travesty.
Facts. Facts. Measurable facts, cut and dried.
Have we learned nothing from Don Quixote de la Mancha? Is there no one out there in a position of authority who understands that facts are the enemy of truth? It’s better to tilt at windmills than to deprive our students of their individuality by cramming them into the little boxes of comformity. Yes, no student should ever be allowed to graduate or move on if he/she can not pass a basic grade-level skills test; but to teach only to that test? Absolutely unacceptable. Removing the magic from learning should be a capital crime.
And when all the glory and wonder and magic of the language are removed, there is nothing left but the very safe, very statistically provable, very politically correct picking of the bleached, sanitary bones. Our language, in all its glory, forcefully ebbing, forcefully waning, its light put under a bushel lest someone see something sentient and therefore potentially controversial and unmeasurable. Our children's talents buried, hidden under that same bushel, to be dug up every nine weeks for a progress check.
WAIT! Over there! A teacher is laughing with her students! Can't have it. BAM, she's gone. Whew, that was close.
Bullying teachers? Check. Sleeping teachers? Check. Incompetent teachers? Check. Adulterous teachers? Check. Racist teachers? Check. Oh, we're keeping all of those; no two styles are the same, you know.
WAIT! Over there! A teacher tried to help a student after hours! Can't have it. BAM, she's gone. Whew, another close one.
Decent, hardworking, winning coach/teacher? Sweet. But WAIT! A famous name says he's willing to coach if there's ever an opening! BAM. Instant opening. A few rules are broken but it's all in the name of a winning season so it's okay. Irony: no more winning season.
Plagiarist? Check. Another plagiarist? Check. Two plagiarizing valedictorians in a row. But it's okay; their families are prominent, and the principal approved. He's no longer principal, by the way.
He's now the assistant superintendent.
Students with bullet belts? Check. Students who use racist epithets? Check. Hey, that's just how we do things around here.
Student's car, parked in lot, has an empty beer can on floor of back seat? Expelled. Student wasn't even in the car at the time? Doesn't matter. Zero tolerance.
LD student steals a girl's purse, opens it, and eats all her Midol tablets. Student gets sick. Girl is suspended for bringing drugs to school. Zero tolerance.
Student's purse strap catches on fire alarm. Parents are called in. They are nobody. Student is suspended for a week. Zero tolerance.
Student deliberately pulls fire alarm. Parents are called in. They are somebody. Principal slaps student on the wrist and sends him back to class. Check.
Student is seen putting Orajel on gums because newly-tightened braces are causing pain. Student suspended for drug usage. Zero tolerance.
Student unplugs a teacher's computer and disconnects the monitor. Check. Boy was just being playful and silly.
Same boy has a website called Hate_____(insert various teachers' names in blank.) All the students know about it. Boy takes pictures of teachers with cameraphone and posts them on these websites. Obscene language. Check. Boy honored with free trip to California for being so web-savvy.
Student steals Chapstick from girl's purse, and eats it. Student gets sick. Girl suspended for bringing drugs to school. Zero tolerance.
Inhalers must be kept locked in the office. They're considered drugs, too.
Okay, let's calm down now and take some tests. They'll determine your future, but no pressure. Anybody left in the room? Begin. Make your mark heavy and dark.
I guess that in today's educational mentality, dormancy is a positive; at the very least it means a child has not regressed (bad for statistics); at the very most, it means that a child has not done any thinking. (also bad for statistics.) How safe, for those in charge. Imagination, that creation of an image for one's thoughts, is the great enemy of the payroll statistician, of the elected administration, of the appointed administration, and of the population created by them.
Also, when a school's scores are low one year, and higher the next year, the school gets more money than if the scores had been high all along. Improvement has merit; being good all the time does not.
"Picture Satan in a business suit, with well-groomed horns, a superbly switching tail, a wide, salesman's grin, sitting with folded hands behind a large shiny desk, its top littered with the paper trails of many a person's demise, thinking 'Aha! If I can substitute images for reality, if I can substitute statistics for people, if I can substitute good public relations for truth, I can get a lot more people under my domination." (L'Engle)
This is what I picture when I think of a school administrator now.
Public opinion. Administrative opinion. Political correctness. Euphemisms.
And by whose values is a test labeled "objective?"
“An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy. Current methodology, the morbid preoccupation with scores and statistics, is destroying our society's ontology:its essence, its BEING.” (L'Engle)
It seems that when those in charge do not understand a thing, they straightaway condemn it. Simplicity itself. These are the kind of people who never understand anything unless it is told them in very plain language and hammered into their heads. And even then they understand it only with their brains and not with their hearts. Such people don't like creativity. They like facts. Facts are easier to comprehend. They take little effort. They represent money. They’re easy to come by and grade. The main thing, however, is money.
Money talks. Statistics mean money. What is then the most important thing to listen to? Statistics.
The whispers of creativity and love and kindness and hard work are seldom heard above the screaming of administrative-types seeking money-making statistics. Teachers who go above and beyond the call of measurable duty are facing a firing squad, and the guns could go off at any moment. It’s dangerous, for many, TOO dangerous, to put yourself on the line to help a child. Those who take the chance, are taking a genuine chance. An administrator who can’t comprehend such a thing will do all in his power to remove a genuinely caring teacher from the ranks, lest there be talk. The truth be damned; they are concerned only with public opinion.
The concentration of a child in play is analogous to the concentration of an artist of any discipline. But unless the child's output can be objectively measured, many administrators dismiss such activities and substitute activities which have a statistically measurable output. Recess is gone, in many schools. The time is needed to prepare for standardized tests. Wiggly little children have no outlet for their natural energy. They 'act up' and are punished. If there are music and art classes still in the curriculum, they are crammed with six or seven times the student population of an academic class; it’s just music, after all. Helpless teachers cry out in vain for common sense and fairness and they are not heard. Such things do not exist in the world of statistics and measurements. And our children are standing in the corner, trying not to move, lest they disturb other children who are having facts crammed into their heads that they might retrieve them for the State.
Don’t misinterpret me here. I believe in testing. I'm no tree-huggin' earth mother who thinks children should sing and dig clay out of the ground for art and eat granola all day long. I believe in math and science and grammar and spelling and history. But I also believe that these are only a partial list of things that our children need to learn, so they will become rational adults who are able to earn their own living, care for themselves and for others, appreciate culture, have fun, and contribute, rather than take away, from society.
We must never lose sight of the fact that civilizations are judged by the arts they leave behind, not for statistics and varsity letters. What will the archaeologists of the future be able to say about our civilization? That we taught our children to be joyless? That we valued a statistic far more than a painting? That we stifled laughter and encouraged apathy? That we honored a scoreboard more than a poem? "Where are the statues and paintings and stories?" Can you hear them wondering? Can you? Or are you too busy condoning the firing of a winning and competent coach so that a Name Brand might be hired in his place? Are you too busy basking in the sea of innuendo and assumption, and ruining teachers’ careers and lives based on nothing but rumors and lies? I think some administrators are, and that they love it. They must, or they wouldn’t continue to do it. They did it again two days ago, right here.
It is sad but true that we are a litigious society. It is sad but true that many of the above facts originate out of fear of a lawsuit, or fear of adverse public opinion/publicity. The self-esteem police and the PC patrol and the heliocopter parents are rampant, and are to be truly feared. That is sad, too.
But it is even sadder that the society which strikes the most fear into the hearts of the schools was created by this fact-finding mentality that is so prevalent today.
The saddest, and the truest, is that this is a vicious circle, and no one seems to have the intestinal fortitude to straighten it out. Indeed, as so many of us have discovered, it is too dangerous to try. =================================================================================================p>
Sweep Your Steps!!!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Because I said so, Adrian.
Why does this cartoon make me giggle uncontrollably? After all, parents aren't perfect, and we all need help.
Just not from Adrian.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Carnivals, Valedictorians, Sunshine, Lawn Danger, Chinese Opera, Restrooms, and other people's cats
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I think that I shall never see. . . .Hub and I were looking at the stand of pine trees on the north side of our house, and remembering the day we planted them. In Indiana, anybody can get free tree seedlings from the State Nursery, and one day many years ago, we drove there and loaded up.
The pines were wispy little things, invisible when the sun was just right. For years, it was hard to tell a seedling tree from a tall weed. For years, I rode the riding mower around them. And then, one summer, I coudn't.
Today, they tower over our property. Rabbits and quail live in the piney grove. It's beautiful and I love it.
We do need to get out the chain saw and do some weeding. There are some lurker trees hanging about in there, and they musn't be allowed to choke out the pines.
It's a piney grove and nothing else. No interlopers allowed.
Pines and hardwoods together? Not in the grove. Elsewhere, sure.
I love trees. Evergreens, hardwoods, all of them. I even like the pesky catalpa trees that try to overrun us every year. The blossoms are beautiful and they smell wonderful. The long green worms in the summer, not so much. Fishermen come to the door and ask for the worms, though. Apparently, the fish love them.
So sure, mix those trees. Except in the piney grove.
As one of my students wrote last semester, "I do, like God himself, love all kinds of trees, both hardwood and marsupial."
I really don't think a person can be a good teacher without a finely-honed sense of humor. And I know that God has one; just look at all the hardwoods and marsupials out there.
Adorable baby kittens. Free to good home.
Hey, does anyone want a kitten? They're irresistable, really.
They're not mine, but they've been living on my deck for the past week. Four yellow ones (one with a white face) and a dark grey one with light grey and gold highlights.
My own poor elderly cat is so intimidated by the MomCat, he won't even assert himself enough to eat out of his own dish when I pour the cheap cat food chunks in it. That first chunk hits the plastic and those kittens are all over that dish like piranha on a cow's hind leg. If poor Charley Gordon comes near it, MomCat takes a swipe at him. There's enough hissing out there to rival a den of snakes. And I know what that sounds like, too.
But, but, but. . . . they're so cuuuuute. They really are. And aren't they too young to be chowing down on CheapoChunks? They're only a month old, for crying out loud, which they also do a lot.
They're still nursing, yes. But they're also eating a LOT of CheapoChunks. MomCat has also stopped cleaning them up when they poop, which means that I'm hosing down my deck once a day, and sometimes more. This must cease.
Dear neighbors, please come and get your kittens. You know where they've been for the past week. If they're still here when I get home from this Blackboard class, I'm bringing them over.
I probably shouldn't have put that big covered box out there. With an old blanket in it.
Well, here they were, and I was worried about the raccoons and possums eating them.
Whoops, look at the time! Got to feed all those cats and get to class.
I mean, feed MY cat. Or try.
Poor old kitty. Him's totally outnumbered and him's done out of his own little dish. Not fair. And look, there's the MomCat standing guard.
I'll get the hose out when I get back. Ain't nobody sittin' out there just yet. Yuck.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Home might be where the heart is, but some mighty stupid people live here, too.Wow, this town is rockin' with controversies this spring!
We've got a social studies teacher who told his classes that "Slavery wasn't all that bad. Don't you get punished by your parents when you do something wrong?” When his students tried to argue with him, they were told to sit down and be quiet.
Was anything done? Nope. We've got about ten black families in this town and they're very unhappy, but nothing was done. We've got several thousand other families in this town who are also very unhappy, but nothing was done. Nothing is ever done when something deserves to be done.
We've got a teacher who devotes half or more of every class period to 'silent reading.' If there's time, he teaches them something. Has anyone spoken to him about this? No. This is not the kind of silent reading that I used to look forward to when I was in school, by the way.
We've got a teacher who falls asleep at least once every period. His students watch for it, and when his head falls back and he starts to snore, they tiptoe all over the room and pretty much go silently bonkers. Sometimes, they go out into the hall and point through the window so others can see the sleeping teacher. Was anything ever done? No.
We've got another teacher who playfully put a little piece of tape over the mouth of a disruptive student. The student laughed and straightened up, and life went on. But apparently another student snapped a picture of the taped-up student with a cell phone camera and showed it to her parents at home, and those parents, completely unrelated to the student in question, complained to the principal and the teacher was put on administrative leave, which is a euphemism for being suspended and investigated.
The community has risen up in defense of this teacher, but the administration will not back down and apologize. The parents of the disruptive student have gone on record as backing the teacher. Nobody except this one uninvolved family is upset over what happened; it was all done in the spirit of fun and being silly. There have been several letters to the editor in protest, but not a word from
They never do. This administration is famous for its ridiculous and disgraceful decisions, and heresay, rumor, and innuendo are their doctrines. They really don't care about proof otherwise, either.
This is the system that promotes the principal and fires the secretary, whenever they're caught with their pants down, remember?
This is the system that would not punish a group of boys for harassing another boy with the "n" word, because "in this community, that's just how a lot of people talk, and the boys didn't know any better." Right. In the eighth grade.
This is the system that said it was all right for the boys to wear bullet belts, because most of them were hunters and "that's how we do in these parts."
It's a shame. It's a travesty.
How embarassing to live here.
Oh, and I'm in a kind of bad mood tonight. Why? I have no idea. I just am. There really are many lovely people in this community; I am just saddened by what's NOT being done. Injustice is hard to bear. Or should be, anyway.
Tomorrow I'm driving up to the city to take a short course in using "Blackboard" so I can teach some hybrid courses this summer.
Yes, "Blackboard." I just can't figure out what the long white sticks of chalk are for, and some professors are going to show me how to use them.
Business in the front, party in the back.
Ooh, I saw a lot of these this weekend. Not at OUR reunion, heavens no, but out at all the fine local shopping venues here.
You know, WalMart, K-Mart, Lowe's. . . . and that farm implement place where we bought the fence posts. The one with the baby chickens.
I'm not making fun of people with mullets or anything, but. . . .oh, okay, I'm making fun of people with mullets.
Really, I only have one question: WHY?
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Happy Mother's Day, MomHappy Mother's Day, Mom.
Why, yes, that is a shotgun in her hands. What's your point?
Just obey her, and everything will be all right.
That's my Mom. Everything will be all right. She'll take care of you.
Um, just how did you all think I learned to shoot snakes, anyway?
Heck, all of us kids were reloading shells before we were ten, and one of the things we most hated to hear Dad say was "Get in the car, kids, we're going out to the gun club to pick up wads."
The gun club. That will have to be a separate post.
If I have that recurring dream tonight where I'm sitting underground in the traphouse in ankle-deep water, loading trap on that electronic monster, I'll be really upset. Loading was better than pulling, but as I said, the whole experience will have to be a separate post. Some other time.
Actually, being forced to play with all those extremely
perverted, bizarre, freaky, scary, and stupid weird children there was the worst part.
Tomorrow, all of Mom's daughters will be at her house, bearing food and gifts. My sisters will bring hanging flower baskets for Mom, whereas I always give her something. . . . else. This year I'm giving her "Along Came Polly" on DVD. I know she'll especially love the bathroom scene.
Private joke. (sorry, Dad.)
Turn off your TV, Mom; we're all coming over.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
I Love My Mom Very, Very Much.
Now, I want it understood that I absolutely ADORE my mother. She was everything, and more, that a mother should be, when we were kids growing up. She never had much as a kid growing up, and I really think she loved our dolls and toys as much if not more than we did. I can just barely remember Mom getting down on the floor and playing paper dolls with my sister and me.
With the younger two, she wasn't able to be a playful mom. By then, Dad was getting sick and we didn't know, and she had other things to deal with. But the oldest two kids, we got the funny playful mommy. By that time, I was in my early teens, and I couldn't grow up fast enough.
Of course, once I hit those teens and wanted to grow up some more, she put her foot down on a lot of things that everybody else in the known universe got to do but thats not what this post is about.
(Ive forgotten all about how she chose and bought my formal for Prom without even consulting me or telling me she was going to do it. Honest, I never think about that. And even though it was the most hideous dress this side of a bridesmaids dress that you or anyone else could even imagine, and I cried for days, and ended up apologizing to HER for hurting her feelings, I just never think about it any more. Havent for years. And that big bow she added herself to fancy it up? Im sure it was a lot prettier than I remember. It had to be, there was only one way to go. But I never think of those things now.)
I want it understood that I love my mother. I sincerely, honestly, love my mother. I'm proud to be her daughter.
However, unlike anybody else's mother, she is occasionally embarassing when we're out in public.
This post is about taking Mom to the movies, or actually, taking her anywhere in public. Its best done with all the daughters together, but sometimes I take her with just the two of us. Youd think Id have learned by now but I guess I forget in between times because I keep doing it. In fact, Mom and I are going to the local Little Theatre next week. (Scotty's in the play, by the way.)
The thing with Mom is, shes forgotten how to whisper. Everyone she sees either looks somehow familiar, or is a total stranger and where in the world did they come from and what do they want? And do I know them?
And if I know them and she doesnt, where did I meet them? Do I work with them? Does Mom know any of their family? Why are they wearing those clothes? Who cuts their hair? Why would they go out into public looking like that?
And did you hear the scandal about his/her (pick one) father, mother, sister, brother, Aunt Matilda, son, daughter, etc? (Oh, they cant hear me. Theyre busy.)
Me: Mom, youre really loud. Hold it down.
Mom: Oh, they dont know me anyway.
Me: Mom, they know ME.
Mom: Well, thats all right, they cant hear me anyway. Besides, its no secret, everybody knows.
Me: Mom, WHISPER.
(Movie finally starts. See if you can guess which movie.)
Mom: Now, explain to me what theyre doing.
Me: Mom, theyre transferring a dinosaur from the truck to the compound.
Mom: Dinosaurs are extinct. Is this a Disney movie? Poor Annette, shes in a wheelchair now, did you know? Do they sing in this movie?
Me: Its based on a science fiction novel, Mom. Theyve cloned dinosaurs and are stocking a park with them.
Mom: Is that a ride? That man is jerking up and down awfully fast, and he doesnt look like hes enjoying it.
Me: No, Mom, the truck slipped and the dinosaur grabbed the man.
Mom: They shouldnt show things like that in the theater. It makes people afraid to ride the rides.
Me: Its not a ride. A dinosaur grabbed him and is going to devour him the minute the camera turns the other way.
Mom: I wont believe that till I see the dinosaur.
Me: Before long you will, Mom.
Mom: Now, nobody else in the theater knows whats happening either, do they?
Honestly, I dont know why we havent been thrown out. It must be because our dialogue (and her monologue) is usually a lot better than the movie dialogue.
I hate sitting by people like us.
This next one really belongs to my sisters, but Ill tell it anyway. I'm sorry I missed this one, it must have been one of the greats.
Setting: local sandwich shop:
Mom: Our former minister has started a new church. Its full of wife-swappers.
Sis: Mom, hold your voice down, thats not a very nice thing to say.
Mom: Well, its true. Maybe people should be warned.
Sis: Mom, youre repeating gossip.
Mom: Its not gossip when you know its true.
Sis: Well, try to whisper. The waitress might hear you.
Mom: She already knows. Thats his daughter.
Mom: And that girl behind the cash register? Thats his daughter, too.
Mom: Shh, why are you always so loud in public?
Weve all given up.
Good thing we love her.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. You're the greatest and I wouldn't trade you for any TV sitcom mom in any era. Not even for Morticia.
And I always thought Morticia was awesome.
You don't think MY kids will ever tell people I'm embarassing, do you?
Friday, May 12, 2006
Where Is The Groom? He's In The Other Room. In Ohio.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
And People Say I Don't Do Politics!This one time,
On the way home from the meet (where we blew all the other middle schools out of the water, by the way) we stopped at a Dairy Queen. No self-respecting kid would want to sit with the chaperones, so we four adults, and I use that term loosely, had a whole table to ourselves.
After about fifteen minutes of conversation, which included detailed descriptions of everybody's wedding night, our opinions of educational policy and a lot of the administrators we had been afflicted with over the years, people we all knew, the school, some of the schools we had beaten, kids in general, and world peace, we noticed that the students had all moved away from our table, as far away as they could get, in fact, and still be inside the restaurant.
"Good," we thought. "We don't have to whisper."
But we had never been whispering, we realized in horror. Then we laughed some more, and went on talking.
We talked until the manager of the Dairy Queen asked us to leave. We were disturbing the other customers.
We apologized, and told him we would round up the kids and get them out.
"No, no," he assured us. "It wasn't the kids. Your kids are fine."
It was us. The four adult chaperones.
Were we embarassed? Well, yeah, some.
Did we care? Not much, no.
Was it worth it? Heck yeah.
It wasn't like we lived in that town. (Some attitude, huh).
Even the kids had moved away from us. Hahahahahahahaha
A table of four so-called adults. Yup, yup, yup.
One professor, one guardian ad litem, one General Motors executive, and one lieutenant governor of the state.
We're a wild bunch, we are.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Better Living Through Chemistry?In keeping with the theme of things I have just now heard of but which everybody else has known for ages, here's the spam my husband sent me today.
In Pharmacology, all drugs have two names, a trade name and generic name. For example, the trade name of Tylenol also has a generic name of Acetaminophen. Aleve is also called Naproxen. Amoxil is also called Amoxicillin and Advil is also called Ibuprofen.
The FDA has been looking for a generic name for Viagra.
After careful consideration by a team of government experts, the FDA recently announced that it has settled on the generic name of Mycoxafloppin. Also considered were Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix, and of course, Ibepokin.
Pfizer Corp. announced today that Viagra will soon be available in liquid form, and will be marketed by Pepsi Cola as a power beverage suitable for use as a mixer. It will now be possible for a man to literally pour himself a stiff one. Obviously we can no longer call this a soft drink, and it gives new meaning to the names of "cocktails", "highballs" and just a good old-fashioned "stiff drink." Pepsi will market the new concoction by the name of: "MOUNT & DO"
Thought for the day: There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.
I try to keep up with things.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Launder At Your Own RiskListen, I'm not THAT bad at doing laundry. I mean, so we've got that big stack of women's sweaters, size
Monday, May 08, 2006
Maybe Just A Tiny Little Addiction, Barely Noticeable and I Can Quit Any Time. But I Don't Want To.
First of all, I am NOT obsessed with or addicted to MASH. It's true that it was the last program I ever watched faithfully. It's also true that since February 28, 1983, there has been no program I was interested enough in to watch even twice in a row. I haven't kept track or anything, though.
I do own all the dvd's of MASH. I pre-order them from Amazon so I'll get them the moment they're released for sale. Lots of people do that. It's not obsession.
Several times a year I will watch every one of the dvd's in some kind of order, usually consecutive. Right now I am watching them in reverse order, but what's so obsessive about that?
There are many episodes that I know by heart. Big deal. In our family, we often memorize things we especially like. When the kids were little, we memorized a rock opera or musical every summer, while riding in the car. Doesn't everybody? My kids knew every word and piece of stage business in the librettos of 'Cats,' 'Evita,' 'Phantom of the Opera,' 'Into The Woods,' 'Les Miserables,' 'Miss Saigon,' 'Aspects of Love,' 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,' 'Jesus Christ Superstar,' 'Godspell,' 'Sweeney Todd,' ' Kismet,' 'Peter Pan,' 'Oklahoma,' 'Carousel,' and others, before they were in junior high. I am a firm believer in Arthur Shopenhauer's quotation "Not to go to the theatre is like making one's toilet without a mirror." I still am, even though we are no longer able to go many places or do many things. They all cost money, imagine. Party poopers.
We also did the Comedian Harmonists up right and proper in the car. The Overture to The Barber of Seveille remains our favorite. The King's Singers had nothing on us.
Ahem. We were discussing MASH.
Some shows are ruined when a cast member bolts or is replaced. Not MASH. Every character was a gem. I actually liked Colonel Potter more than I liked Henry Blake. And I LOVED Major Winchester. Yes, like that. Ok, ok, triple ick. But I could have changed him, I just know it.
Most long-running shows eventually jump the shark. Not MASH. It just got better and better.
Remember those few episodes that featured Captain Spalding playing his guitar and summing up the plot with a song? Do you know who that WAS? That was Louden Wainwright III, cool seventies singer and father of Rufus Wainwright. The show featured lots of new actors who later hit it big. Not as many as The Twilight Zone, of course, but a lot. Patrick Swayze. Ron Howard. John Ritter. Lawrence Fishburne. Andrew Dice Clay. Blythe Danner. Joan Van Ark. Linda Kelsey. Leslie Nielson. Shelly Long. Mary Kay Place. More. I really can't remember. I don't pay that much attention.
I don't really keep track of MASH trivia. Things like Col. Blake's wife's name changing, or Col. Potter's age changing, or Hawkeye's having a sister for a few episodes and then suddenly becoming an only child, or Radar having a deformed left hand so he's always holding something or standing with his hand hidden somehow, are unimportant and I don't even think about them.
I don't get mad at the writers for thinking we viewers won't notice. However, we do. Take heed.
I don't want to see another reunion special. I don't like to think of these actors looking different. I know they do; I saw Alan Alda in "What Women Want" and I'm still traumatized. But I don't want to see their MASH characters looking old. Sometimes reunions are fun, and sometimes they're horrible. I mean, think of Mary Travers. I adore her but I can't look.
Okay, now I'm going back to the kitchen to finish the episode I started an hour or so ago. Major Winchester has just found out that he's staying, and I can't wait to see his reaction.
Radar's teddy bear is in the Smithsonian but you didn't hear it from me, because I don't pay attention to details like that.
Joanne Jacobs, et alJoanne Jacobs will be speaking and signing books on Thursday, May 11 at 5:30 pm at William E. Doar Jr. (WEDJ) Public Charter School for the Performing Arts, 705 Edgewood St. NE, Washington, DC (near the Rhode Island and Brookland-CUA metro stops). Then, on Wednesday, May 17 at 5:30 pm, she'll be speaking at Russell Byers Charter School, 1911 Arch St., in downtown Philadelphia. If you're in the area, stop by and experience Joanne. When it comes to education, she knows her stuff.
If the people next door would pick up all the toys from their lawn, I would go over there and mow it for them. I know their mower is not working right now, but I don't want to be responsible for relocating property. I can not find anything in "The Handbook of Social Correspondence" about telling the neighbors you'll mow their lawn if they'll first get all those toys out of it. (I didn't really look it up in a book.) (It's probably not there anyway.) (In which case, what good is it?) (I don't need a book that tells me which fork to use or how to bend my pinky when lifting a demitasse cup.) (I need a book that tells me how to ask my neighbors to pick up all those damn toys so I can mow their lawn for them.) (I learned about forks from "Pretty Woman.") (And some other useful things, too.) (None of your business.)
Tomorrow the Honda has an appointment for regular maintenance. The car goes to the doctor more than any of us. I will turn in my final exams and post my grades while I'm waiting for the Honda Doctor to keep my baby running.
Then I will take my son to lunch. Got to keep all my babies running.
Then I will kill some more time, and meet my friend Frau for an early supper, to which I will also invite my daughter. Frau was her favorite teacher of all time. This, if Frau's car is running.
Running, running, running. Keep the cars running. Keep the mowers running. Keep the kids running.
It's enough to give a person the trots. Speaking of running. . . . .